Rumour: Zune services to be split up and rebranded

Here's something to watch for tomorrow, Tuesday the 24th, at the Windows Phone "Mango" event. What will happen to Zune and its services? For its hardware, there were promises of Zune devices in the works. Not much has materialized following the MIX Keynote, so in the best case scenario, some members of the Windows Phone team of which the Zune hardware division was absorbed into are probably working on it in small bits. That is, if we're not to believe that the Zune hardware platform is dead.

Zune's services have remained intact, but there is word that they will be broken up into different divisions following the recent Nokia deal. The Twitter user MS_Nerd (via wpcentral) shared two tweets of what will happen in terms of rebranding:

@manan @clubdirthill Wee little rumor seeping out now: Zune next to be split into Xbox mobile, Xbox Live & Windows Live Zune on the 24th.

And the Zune backend platform will become a "Nokia services on Azure" offering, with content from Netflix, Last.fm & Hulu among others.

A rebranding may reinvigorate the ailing Zune platform, or what will eventually become of it in three separate divisions, although the name "Windows Live Zune" sounds a bit peculiar. We should know more information regarding any possible shuffling in the days to come.

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I get that they're trying to go for clarity here.

At this point Zune will == iTunes.

It will be the delivery platform for media services. Everything else will be horribly branded as a Microsoft device that accesses the service.

I am saddened.

I think keeping it as 1 is a much better option... 1 brand accross 4 platforms (Zune, WP7, 360 and PC)

Splitting it would just cause issues and fragmentation i think MS would have to watch how they do this as not to split it all tooo much which could cause confusion for most users...

Zune is here, Zune works, Zune just needs abit more push and shove from MS in the right areas.. (Like AUS maybe MS???? )

neufuse said,
Windows Live Zune Multi Media Player Ultimate Edition Subscription Service?

Don't forget the Windows Live Zune Multi-Media Player Starter Edition!

Whatever they do, i hope they make zunepass like xbox live family pass, where i can add additional authenticated devices/users without having to pay full retail for secondary accounts.

blahism said,
Whatever they do, i hope they make zunepass like xbox live family pass, where i can add additional authenticated devices/users without having to pay full retail for secondary accounts.

You already can. Up to 3 computers and 3 Windows Phones/Zunes.

Eh...I think it best if Microsoft bought out Rhapsody (to absorb subscribers, not the software) and started a new marketing campaign to change Zune's image from a failing hardware platform to THE cloud-based music service. "Cloud" is being pushed with iTunes soon and others; MS might as well use Zune as their answer to competitors. Attaching "Windows Live" to the Zune brand would cheapen it, as if it couldn't stand on its own and therefore would have to be "tucked away" inside another brand.

Not sure if it's because of strategy or constant reorgs (perhaps both), but the Zune team is seriously lagging other MS divisions. Zune Pass is *the* strongest offering they have - and it's a damn good strength, too. They already have a "cloud player" through their website, for instance, you just can't use it on mobile devices (ignoring WP7 Zune client). They should make their site mobile-friendly, with at least a web player, but preferably an actual streaming Zune app, for Android and iPhone. The closed-interface only works for first movers or top-of-market players, and Zune is neither.
Love Zune, but sort of like a friend that's got a lot to offer, but keeps doing weird stuff that turns people off.

JoDaddy said,
Not sure if it's because of strategy or constant reorgs (perhaps both), but the Zune team is seriously lagging other MS divisions. Zune Pass is *the* strongest offering they have - and it's a damn good strength, too. They already have a "cloud player" through their website, for instance, you just can't use it on mobile devices (ignoring WP7 Zune client). They should make their site mobile-friendly, with at least a web player, but preferably an actual streaming Zune app, for Android and iPhone. The closed-interface only works for first movers or top-of-market players, and Zune is neither.
Love Zune, but sort of like a friend that's got a lot to offer, but keeps doing weird stuff that turns people off.

They haven't really been lagging, the Zune software guys were working on WP7, hardware guys as well to some extent I think. In the end, and as far as MS has said, 2011's "Zune devices" are the Windows Phones. Each one is a Zune as well, etc. After this though who knows, and if the rumor about Xbox mobile is true then who knows what they might do?

GP007 said,

They haven't really been lagging, the Zune software guys were working on WP7, hardware guys as well to some extent I think. In the end, and as far as MS has said, 2011's "Zune devices" are the Windows Phones. Each one is a Zune as well, etc. After this though who knows, and if the rumor about Xbox mobile is true then who knows what they might do?


Yeah, that has been mentioned before. In the meantime, Silverlight, Office, Bing, and Windows Live teams (to mention a few) have all done the same thing, PLUS opened up to other phones.
I'm not trying to knock the Zune team members, just observing that there's more than one way to capture a larger audience without as much investment. Apps are pretty easy compared to waiting for a new phone model.

Given that the Zune HD 64 GB is out of stock for some large online sellers (Amazon, Best Buy), there is something going on hardware-side.
I do hope that new hardware is going to be announced. I do need something to replace my minidisc.
I do not like the so-called great convergence of portable electronics: I want to keep my phone separated from my GPS and from my music player. I do not want to put all my eggs on a single electronic basket.


"Windows Live Zune" .... really? What is up with MS and their incessant need to put "Windows" into everything? What, "Windows Xbox" is next? Hope the rumor isn't true. Zune is fine as is (the name, that is). The software, on the other hand, needs work. Heck, make the software better and ax Windows Media Player.

srprimeaux said,
"Windows Live Zune" .... really? What is up with MS and their incessant need to put "Windows" into everything? What, "Windows Xbox" is next? Hope the rumor isn't true. Zune is fine as is (the name, that is). The software, on the other hand, needs work. Heck, make the software better and ax Windows Media Player.

The software is solid, music and TV wise it works great. Photos might need some more features but it's not a client for editing and it's just for management and it does that without a problem.

You also need to stop thinking about the whole name as "Windows Live Zune" that's not really how it is, the Live apps are a group that work with the Live services, in the end each app is just Messanger, photo galary, movie maker, and so on. In the end people don't call WLM Windows Live Messanger, they just call it Messanger. They don't call Movie Maker windows live movie maker, it's just Movie Maker. It's just like Office, You don't call Word "office word" do you? Yet it's branded MS Office Word. It's the same thing.

srprimeaux said,
"Windows Live Zune" .... really? What is up with MS and their incessant need to put "Windows" into everything? What, "Windows Xbox" is next? Hope the rumor isn't true. Zune is fine as is (the name, that is). The software, on the other hand, needs work. Heck, make the software better and ax Windows Media Player.

I agree. Everything was fine the way it was. Just needed marketed better! Keep Zune on the Xbox, but update that software a little bit. Get rid of windows media player. Do something about the lack of Apps on the Zune HD, or atleast get the big ones like a youtube app...

Why add windows live infront of Zune. Add Zune into Xbox, so Xbox users see it, add Zune into windows phone 7, so users see it, keep the software called Zune. If you don't know what Zune is after all that, your living under a rock. Quick adding crap to make the name longer. Windows Live sucks IMO. Who calls this stuff Windows Live ?. It's movie maker, msn messenger, hotmail, skydrive. It's not windows live anything.

GP007 said,
The software is solid, music and TV wise it works great. Photos might need some more features but it's not a client for editing and it's just for management and it does that without a problem.

The software needs work. Ever tried editing your music & video tags within Zune? It's a nightmare. You try to defend it by saying it's not meant for that, but editing your content is part of managing it. Heck, iTunes does a far better job at this than the Zune software does. There's no excuse. It should be able to do at least what it does but if Microsoft wishes to compete against iTunes, it should do it better.

GP007 said,
You also need to stop thinking about the whole name as "Windows Live Zune" that's not really how it is, the Live apps are a group that work with the Live services, in the end each app is just Messanger, photo galary, movie maker, and so on. In the end people don't call WLM Windows Live Messanger, they just call it Messanger. They don't call Movie Maker windows live movie maker, it's just Movie Maker. It's just like Office, You don't call Word "office word" do you? Yet it's branded MS Office Word. It's the same thing.

It's branded "Windows Live ______." If that's irrelevant, drop it. Simple.

It's not branded "Movie Maker." It's branded "Windows Live Movie Maker." Not just "Windows Movie Maker," no no. It's "Windows LIVE (caps for emphasis) Movie Maker."

Hotmail was simply: Hotmail. Now it's "Windows Live Hotmail." Seriously, WTF?

Zune is a brand name. It's fine. No need to add "Windows Live" to it.

I don't see this as a big change in the end. The "Windows Live Zune" bit, to me, just means that MS will push the Zune client/software into the mix with the rest of the Live apps (messanger, photo, etc). This is a good thing since compared to Zune on it's own the Live apps are used and better known by way more people. This will only help it's exposure I think.

And the Xbox mobile and Xbox Live parts also make a bit of sense, there's no real reason for Zune on xbox to be it's own split off thing like it is right now. Just merge it with the rest of Live and make it a bonus for gold members, i.e. Gold users also get a form of the Zune Pass but limited to the Xbox instead of Xbox, phone and PC. Thus the "Zune" on the PC that we'll still get can keep it's current Zune pass BUT paying for that would give you the option of having your media on all 3 screens as appose to limited to Xbox via the Xbox Live bit. This also sounds better to me and makes more sense.

As for the mobile part, i'm not quite sure as to what Xbox Mobile means, but maybe they're hinting at more game focused hardware? That could be what the Zune hardware team will work on? I think a PSP phone type Xbox device running WP7 but also having slide out controls and a better GPU would be great.

GP007 said,
I don't see this as a big change in the end. The "Windows Live Zune" bit, to me, just means that MS will push the Zune client/software into the mix with the rest of the Live apps (messanger, photo, etc). This is a good thing since compared to Zune on it's own the Live apps are used and better known by way more people. This will only help it's exposure I think.

And the Xbox mobile and Xbox Live parts also make a bit of sense, there's no real reason for Zune on xbox to be it's own split off thing like it is right now. Just merge it with the rest of Live and make it a bonus for gold members, i.e. Gold users also get a form of the Zune Pass but limited to the Xbox instead of Xbox, phone and PC. Thus the "Zune" on the PC that we'll still get can keep it's current Zune pass BUT paying for that would give you the option of having your media on all 3 screens as appose to limited to Xbox via the Xbox Live bit. This also sounds better to me and makes more sense.

As for the mobile part, i'm not quite sure as to what Xbox Mobile means, but maybe they're hinting at more game focused hardware? That could be what the Zune hardware team will work on? I think a PSP phone type Xbox device running WP7 but also having slide out controls and a better GPU would be great.

I seriously doubt people will suddenly wake up and decide to check out the Zune brand just because Microsoft renamed it Windows Live Zune. The primary reason is because people are locked into their iDevices and don't care much about any competing options. Just this weekend I read a guy's post that said he would never buy a Windows Phone because he didn't want to be considered uncool and he was serious. Lets face it, there are an awful lot of people out there that yearn to be in the in crowd and Apple has tapped into their psyche and made them believe that iProducts make you cool. Changing the name from Zune to Windows Live Zune won't do a darn think to help the platform grow.

NPGMBR said,

I seriously doubt people will suddenly wake up and decide to check out the Zune brand just because Microsoft renamed it Windows Live Zune. The primary reason is because people are locked into their iDevices and don't care much about any competing options. Just this weekend I read a guy's post that said he would never buy a Windows Phone because he didn't want to be considered uncool and he was serious. Lets face it, there are an awful lot of people out there that yearn to be in the in crowd and Apple has tapped into their psyche and made them believe that iProducts make you cool. Changing the name from Zune to Windows Live Zune won't do a darn think to help the platform grow.

It will grow just from the tie-in with Messanger, lots of people who use and know about Messanger don't know about the Zune client which is a great piece of software for music. You're just looking at it from one side, and while there is a group who are fixated into their iDream there's also a large group who aren't. Look at the growth of Android for example, don't take the more vocal and fanatic iFans as being the majority because they're not.

Most people will use something new if it's good, the Zune client if you ask around blows iTunes out of the water, people just need to know about it. Even if half of the reported 300million messanger users start using Zune it's a large jump to the platform.

I find it VERY unlikely that Microsoft would give up their Zune Cloud service and branding for a Nokia service... Particularly considering that Zune is a good service with a lot of current customers that they would have to figure a way for them to continue to work with the new Nokia based service... I could see Microsoft working with other companies to jointly improve aspects of Zune, but I just cannot imagine Microsoft giving up control of that service. This would really shock me if true.

M_Lyons10 said,
I find it VERY unlikely that Microsoft would give up their Zune Cloud service and branding for a Nokia service... Particularly considering that Zune is a good service with a lot of current customers that they would have to figure a way for them to continue to work with the new Nokia based service... I could see Microsoft working with other companies to jointly improve aspects of Zune, but I just cannot imagine Microsoft giving up control of that service. This would really shock me if true.

For the most part I agree with everything you said, but personally I'm starting to feel VERY unsettled by Microsoft's lack of dedication to Zune. I've been a Zune minion since the second gen and have had Zune Pass ever since. If they give up control to Zune to some other company the platform will get screwed. Thats when I'll walk away.

Like Bing, I always thought that Zune was a silly name to use. One thing that Apple gets consistently right is the marketing of their products, and I doubt any people would feel daft saying iPhone, iPad etc.
Microsoft make a lot of awesome products, but their marketing is generally awful (Windows 7 parties???)

Pygmy_Hippo said,
Like Bing, I always thought that Zune was a silly name to use. One thing that Apple gets consistently right is the marketing of their products, and I doubt any people would feel daft saying iPhone, iPad etc.
Microsoft make a lot of awesome products, but their marketing is generally awful (Windows 7 parties???)

Really? I'd say 100% the opposite. Of all the brands, Zune and Bing (Xbox also, but you didn't mention that) are the strongest. All of the names are short and snappy, and basically describe the products (See: Zune HD, Zune Software, Bing Music, Bing Entertainment). I get people calling my phone the Windows 7 Phone non-stop.

Pygmy_Hippo said,
Like Bing, I always thought that Zune was a silly name to use. One thing that Apple gets consistently right is the marketing of their products, and I doubt any people would feel daft saying iPhone, iPad etc.
Microsoft make a lot of awesome products, but their marketing is generally awful (Windows 7 parties???)

iThis, iThat, iWhatever... I'm sick of this stupid Apple branding.

The Stark said,

iThis, iThat, iWhatever... I'm sick of this stupid Apple branding.

But it works. I hate Apple but you have to give it to their marketing department. They know how to pump up crap.I don't know how old you are so you may be out of touch when they market things to you. But this is the "ME" generation. Everything is iPhone, iPad, iOweTwoThosandDollarsOnMyiTunesAccount. So they know how to target.

A uniform naming scheme is pretty useful, the i brand makes anything by apple easily identifiable. Microsoft products are pretty convoluted when it comes to naming schemes.

I'm not sure I understand the newly proposed naming scheme. I assume Windows Live Zune means that the Zune software will be included with windows live mail just to give it more exposure? What will Xbox mobile include?

They should replace windows media player with the Zune software, that would advertise both the Zune brand and the design. The symbol and software is unique and easily identified, and would be a alternative to iTunes for many.

Edited by Minimoose, May 23 2011, 12:43pm :

I'm on my ZuneHD right now and MS really should've pushed this thing farther. It had so much potential. Now the browser crashes almost daily, I have hard freezes, and we get garbage apps barely once a month. Not even a YouTube app on here. Sad. Very sad. I expected at least that for it as a test for the WP7 version. At least the music quality is still good. Sucks being a teenager with no money or I'd get an itouch asap lol.

Stupid move.
The Zune brand was strong. MS just failed to push it.
Zune HD is one of the best devices I have had the pleasure to use.
Shame on MS for not pushing it worldwide.

the better twin said,
Stupid move.
The Zune brand was strong. MS just failed to push it.
Zune HD is one of the best devices I have had the pleasure to use.
Shame on MS for not pushing it worldwide.

If the rumor is true the "brand" is still there, you still see it as Zune. The only difference is that now they're going to push it out with the rest of the live apps it seems, which will get it more noticed. The fact is that something like WLM has a crapload of users, and so do the rest of the Live apps, by adding the Zune player into that mix it'll get it on more peoples systems and give it more attention.

As for Zune on the Xbox, I don't see why it should be it's own seperate brand inside a brand so to say. The backend will the be same regardless of hardware device so no real reason to have two brands on the same hardware, dropping the Zune name inside Xbox Live makes little difference in the end, just make it a better inttegrated part of Live and call it Media marketplace or something.